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Mel Gravely
July-13-2016

The Role of Advisory Committees in Head Start Program Governance

Advisory CommitteeRecently, The Gravely Group received an question via email about how organizations can utilize Advisory Committees in their Program Governance Structure. According to the most recent Program Instruction document on Program Governance, Advisory Committees are allowed under the Head Start Act, “to the extent practicable and appropriate, at the discretion of the governing body, establishing advisory committees to oversee key responsibilities related to program governance and improvement of the Head Start program involved.”

The document goes on further: “This provision authorizes governing bodies to enlist non-governing body members in activities related to governance of the Head Start program administered by the organization. The Act does not authorize a governing body to delegate its entire authority to the advisory committee. The governing body must retain and exercise the authority to make final decisions about all matters pertaining to the grantee’s legal responsibilities under the program and must also have sufficient control over the Head Start program’s fiscal affairs to ensure compliance with fiscal requirements.”

To that end, Advisory Committees can be of particular use for specific initiatives. The Health Services Advisory Committee is a good example of this, in which the committee coordinates between the Governing Body, staff, families, and the community in order to meet health services milestones in the program.

Advisory committees can also help foster collaboration in Head Start partnerships by giving individual community leaders a specific task to work on that they may feel passionate about. For example, asking a nurse or doctor to sit on the Health Services Advisory Committee.

The Office of Head Start puts it this way, “we believe that use of an advisory committee can assist grantees, particularly those that have governing bodies charged with overseeing diverse functions to meet their responsibilities related to the Head Start program in a more efficient manner.”

Are you using Advisory Committees in your program? Leave your comments below!

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